Portion Control Isn't Just for Diets

Most women over the age of thirteen have been on a diet at some point in their lives and have learned that the correct serving size of a protein (3 oz) is the size of a deck of playing cards. I have been paying attention to the size of the portions that I've been eating and over the course of the last six months I've lost weight this way.

But think about other things around the house - 

How big are your drinking glasses? I love to drink milk. Love it! Love it! Love it! And it turns out my glasses are 12 ounces. Milk is good for you and but since we only drink organic milk it gets expensive - so I make sure to pour myself less than a full glass.

Dental floss - it's always a Cool Idea to floss but the floss that I love is pricey and I'm picky. I make sure to not pull off more than I need each morning.

Laundry detergent - especially if you have a high efficiency washing machine you don't need a lot of detergent. Check the instructions on your machine but you can likely back off the amount you are using.

Same goes for dishwasher detergent. The amounts specified are to get us to use more detergent whether we need it to get our dishes/ clothes clean or not. Experiment with slightly decreased amounts and see if you notice any decrease in cleaning ability and if you don't, you'll save yourself some money along the way.

Toothpaste - I never noticed how much of my daily toothpaste I wasn't utilizing until I started using an electric toothbrush. These toothbrushes foam up the toothpaste so much more than I was used to that I nearly choked the first 5 or 6 times. I was  a slow learner!. Using less toothpaste each day makes the tube last longer.

Smaller portions are always a Cool Idea and they help cut expenses, too, since we can stretch the time between trips to the store. Oh, and here's one I'll throw in for free - never let a toddler unroll their own toiler paper. Therein lies madness. Enough said.

I love Books!

I can't remember not loving books. I've always been a know-it-all and books have been a great source of that knowledge. For better or worse, I also married someone who loves books and we have books tucked away in every conceivable space of the house. In fact, when we were first married we were spending more money on books than groceries. It didn't take too many months for us to run out of money and I was reintroduced to the magic of the public library. The true value of the public library will be left for another post but suffice it to say that I keep the link to my local branch library in my browser toolbar and their phone number in my cell phone!

Sometimes, just sometimes, there are books that beg to be owned. They are the books that you surround yourself with. They are written by your favorite authors - the ones that will go on your keeper shelf - or they are the ones you will buy for your kids or you'll send to a niece/ nephew/ friend. You'll send them to a friend who never reads books because you're bound and determined to make sure they one at least one good book. Sometimes you'll shop online from work during a 'break' using a gift card you got from a relative who had no earthly idea what to really get for you so thankfully they didn't actually try.

These are all Cool Ideas!! It is cool to be a subversive in the world of literature and widen someone else's world in knowledge. I love books that make me think even though you don't think there's anything in them to think about. [I know that was an awkward sentence but take a second and say it slowly and out loud - it works.] If you've never read a Jennifer Crusie novel give one a try - there's more to think about in one of Jenny's 'romance' novels than in a lot of 'real' fiction I've had to read, but that's just me talking - here, on my blog. Like you do.

Ahem, Books - I love 'em. They're cool. And Booksellers are cool, too. Want to know what isn't cool right now? The economy is incredibly tough and independent booksellers are having a tough time and if we want them to stay in business it's up to us to help. 

Do you have an independent bookseller in your community? Don't automatically say, "No." Check it out. Find out what kind of books they sell. Go buy a book from them. Order from them by phone or online if they have that capability. It might be just as easy, or easier, than ordering from the other stores using your gift card and you'll be helping out your very own community. It's all good and it's a very Cool Idea!

I promised you Upromise

And here it is. If you have kids of any age I hope you already have an account set up. If not, put down the scissors or other sharp items and run - do not walk - to the site and sign up. Then use the Upromise tool to link your relatives to your account as well. This is the best, easiest, free money out there for you to save for college expenses. It's a slow and steady way to save but it'll be there, all the time, and that the way saving should be.

For those you that are just out of college or grad school yourselves and aren't thinking about kids yet. Upromise may still be useful for you. If you have student loans check to see if your servicer will allow you to pay from Upromise. Mine did but I didn't realize it in time to take the best advantage of it. You have to build up to $50 in your account before you can transfer it to a loan and this can take some time even with help from others linked into your account. I was able to make one transfer to my loan before I paid it off. I might have been able to do more if I'd known that using Upromise retroactively was an option but one payment of Free Money was better than none. 

And there are so many Cool ways to save!! You can save by shopping online through the Upromise site, like my mom does. You can eat at restaurants that give you money back through the Rewards Network, which we found by accident. You can take advantage of the new eCoupons and save money while you shop at your favorite grocery or drug store - and instead of the money coming off your total it will go into your Upromise account. You just load these coupons on each month - much like you do for Shortcuts - and you're ready. Have I mentioned yet that there is almost always a diaper coupon each month. Yeah, another reason to use the eCoupons.  Cool, Huh!!
And if you are new to Upromise there are promotional codes that you can use to add money automatically into your account. First, try 5Tylenol. If that doesn't work try 3Glass. This will deposit either $5 or $3, respectively, directly into your account to kick things off. [Thanks to Carrie at MoneySavingMethods for posting this information.  Then register your grocery loyalty cards, your drugstore cards, your credit/ debit cards, etc. You will find that you'll save money in ways you didn't even know. Before you know it you'll start noticing news ways which you can save using Upromise. It's such a Cool Idea and one which I'm learning to use more and more. Go on, get started - or if you already have a Upromise account go check out your earnings and see if there's anything new on the site that you haven't taken advantage of yet, like the eCoupons. They are a Very Cool Idea!

Get 'em while they're Free

Or almost free - as the case may be

The Freebie Blogger has information about deals at restaurant.com - buy a $25 certificate [reg. price $10] now just $3 and a $10 certificate [reg. price $3] now just $0.90 - until Jan 31! If you've never used restaurant.com you are missing out!! Certificates are good for a year and at these prices you are helping out restaurant owners and servers alike. You can also purchase the certificate through Upromise or Cashbaq to take advantage of additional savings. See the post for complete details.

Free subscription to Martha Stewart Living 

How to Save Money on Diapers

Is this not the answer to your dreams? Mostly after a few months or a year Moms start dreaming of the days of their child being potty trained. Then they start potty training and think diapers aren't such a bad thing or they wonder if there's a Potty Training Boot Camp. Or maybe a reality show "We Do It for Stickers" or something like that. 

Until then, diaper companies try to help us along by making it less painful for our wallets. Pampers has a 'points' program that I've seen mentioned and Huggies and Pullups are part of The Caregivers Marketplace.

The Caregivers Marketplace is a cash back program for anyone who "gives, gets or needs care". It appears that the manufacturers of the products provide the rebate for the items and Caregivers Marketplace gives it out.  There is no limit to the number of cash-back checks you can request so if you wanted you could send in a request every time you shop. Or you could be a slacker like me and be combing your receipt stashes and doing one really big 2008 request. 

Enrollment can be done online or by mail. Just print out the .pdf form and mail it in with your receipts and the check comes back 4-6 weeks later. Voila.

Don't forget that this can be layered with other coupons and deals out there. This week CVS has a great deal on Huggies [see Tara's post at Deal Seeking Mom]. Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm not a math genius so I won't try to dazzle you with my skills but I do know that once you layer the good deal on top of the Extra Bucks on top of the cash back from Caregivers Marketplace for something you were going to have to buy anyway - well, it just makes sense to do the little bit of work and get the rebate.

Vote for the White House Farmer

Here's another opportunity to take part in the American political process. Voting for the White House Farmer is open until January 31st. You can, of course, vote for whomever you choose because this is a free country. However, if you are undecided I'd like to lobby for your vote - the co-owner of the CSA that I belong to - Charlie Collins of Victory Farms - has been nominated. This would be a great opportunity for Community Supported Agriculture to be placed front and center. You can only vote once but you can pass it around to any and all. Thank you for your support.

My First Real Grocery Game Success

I have already confessed that I've been playing The Grocery Game for a year now but that I've never really done it right. Finally, the planets have converged and I had an amazing week. I know others have gotten to this point faster but - Many Roads Lead to Oz - and I'm proud of my success. 

First, I finally sat down and clipped the coupons from the past month's worth of newspapers. This took hours. Thankfully "House" is wonderfully distracting.  Second, The Grocery Game is just fantastic. I can't say more. Well, yes, I can. See my earlier post and don't forget that if you sign up, I'd appreciate it if you used me as a referral [sgurnsey at yahoo dot com - thnx.]  Third, I shopped at Kroger today which was running a Mega Deal-thingy so there were amazing deals to be found.

The best part is that I think I have a good mix of things to eat and things to stockpile. I won't need hairspray or conditioner for-EVER. Dove conditioner was 2/$7 and I had a $1.50 off coupon - which brought my bottle of conditioner down to $2. Not bad. It wasn't on The Grocery Game so I may still come up in the rotation later but I have another coupon saved up.

The bill rang up at $88+ before coupons. I had $20 in coupons, another $5 came off because I bought 10 items in the Mega Deal-thingy [six of which I had coupons for] and my receipt says my total savings was $40.82! This includes buying two packages of diapers and a pot roast for nearly $10! I'll also get a bit more off for the diapers because I had an e-coupon from Upromise on my Kroger card [I'll talk about this next post] and I'll be turning this receipt in to Caregivers Marketplace [yet another post will be about this -suffice it to say that if you use Huggies brands, keep your receipts until I post!]

So, the Cool Idea here? Perseverance. I used The Grocery Game in different ways over the past year and it always helped me cut down my grocery costs even if it wasn't as successful as it was today.

Freebies Galore

I'm catching up after being away at the Inauguration but I wanted to circulate some great freebies:

Request 24 FREE Issues of PARENTS Magazine
FREE Sample of Quaker True Delights
FREE Sample of Playtex Sport Tampons
FREE 4-pack of Hansen's Organic Junior Water - go to special offers and subscribe to the mailing list to receive the coupon
Braille Bug Alphabet Card - introduce your kids to the world of Braille
FREE Sample of Always Infinity Pad

Article II and the 20th Amendment

I think, no matter your political persuasion, the Inauguration of an American President is a very Cool Thing and truly - the peaceful transfer of power is not to be taken lightly even in this day and age. I love things like this - and yes, I am a total Geek. I love Americana and I grew up in the DC area and participated in two Presidential Inaugurations. Geek that I am we're going to go to this one, too. So, unless there is precipitation falling from the sky we're planning to be among the throng on The Mall to see the swearing in.

What are your plans for the day? Do you know how to explain what is going on to your kids?

Here are a couple of Cool Ideas:

In the Washington Post on Tuesday, January 20th, there will be a do-it-yourself, Pop Up Inaugural Swearing-in ceremony that was designed by Carol Barton, author of The Pocket Paper Engineer: How to Make Pop-Ups Step By Step. To hear more about this you can listen to an interview with Scott Simon on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday.

Kids off the Couch is a website devoted to just what it sounds like - getting kids up and moving. But I love how they pair up indoor and outdoor activities in order to motivate kids and families. Go read the information for the Inaugural. It's good for adults and kids alike. There are talking points for all ages of kids. Information for the broadcasts. Be sure to register to get the regular emails. Even if you aren't in one of the cities listed you'll still get great ideas for ways to get your Kids off the Couch.

Whatever Cool Idea you choose be part of the day. It's historic and it'll be amazing in so many Cool ways.

[It shouldn't be stretch to realize that this post title is taken from the parts of the Constitution that discuss the swearing in and Inauguration of the President. If you haven't read it in awhile. Check it out. It's a very Cool Idea.]

I just gave you money and now you want my email?!?!?!?

I'd like to think that my parents taught me a few manners and some of those are that, within reason, I should answer questions politely when I am asked. Sometimes, I wonder what that information is used for - especially when stores start asking for my email when I make a purchase. Well, it doesn't really take the Vulcan Mind Meld to figure this out, right? They are going to put me on their mailing list. No harm, no foul. 

Sure enough. I'm on some new mailing lists now that the holidays are over, but that's not all. I've also received offers for free magazines from two of these stores. One is a bricks-and-mortar store and the other is an online store. I'm not sure if there's a threshold of purchase amount or not but it'll be something to watch and observe. I'd also love to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience.

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

The goal is to not have it cost that much. I'm not very good at getting pictures printed and I'm trying to get better. Finding good deals on picture printing makes it easier to do this. Carrie at MoneySavingMethods.com has a page dedicated to Free Photos. 

Also, if you look back in the main blog posts a day or two she mentions two fantastic deals. The first is with Kodak Gallery for 75 Free prints and the second is for a Free Calendar with Shutterfly.

I know that some of you with adorable children have a true love of pictures and are great about getting them sent out. What better way to make this easier on them pocket in 2009 than to get a few of these pictures for free! Definitely a Cool Idea!

Mid-January Check-in

It's still early enough in the year that most people are following their resolutions. For accountability sake it's time to look at my resolutions and see how I'm doing.

1. Do a better job with using coupons/ pantry stockpiling
Well, if there is one thing that has suffered this month it's the grocery shopping. I have been working to rebuild my coupon stash and get it reorganized, but I haven't gone on a real grocery shopping trip due to some schedule conflicts. On the other hand, we haven't really needed it either. I have managed to not lose my CVS Extra Bucks so I've stocked up on some items from there.

2. Continue to find creative ways to cut expenses
No movement here, but then again I haven't increased the expenses either.

3.  Meal Planning/ Smart Planning
This is where I've targeted my energies because it's where I thought I could get the most bang for my buck - so to speak. We still ate out a couple of times each week, but I never got caught at 4 o'clock thinking 'jeez, i wonder what we're going to eat tonight' and we had MUCH less wasted food. 

4. Increase my income as a stay at home parent.
Last year I started doing Mystery Shopping and online surveys. One of the survey companies I signed up with is Ipsos I-say Survey Panel [you'll find them at the bottom of this page] and they've been great to work with. They don't send out a lot of surveys but a few I've gotten have led to in-home product testing and that's been great. Nothing like getting something free that you were going to use anyway. 
I'm also making a concerted effort to find mystery shops in my area instead of waiting for the company emails to reach out to me. I've bookmarked their sites and set up a rotation to check them throughout the week. One of the companies I'll check more often because it's for a grocery store and who wouldn't want free groceries!! So far this month I have a bank shop and a restaurant shop scheduled.

5. Find a way to live a smarter in the balance between frugality and the environment
This is a hard one especially as the weather gets colder. It's tempting to pump up the thermostat so that the entire house is comfortable while I sit here typing. Instead, I have my favorite wool sweater on and a blanket on my legs. My feet are still cold but I'm sitting downstairs. The girls are all toasty in their beds upstairs. I'd be upstairs working, too, except that if I got too comfy I'd also want some rest time;)

Resolutions are definitely Cool Ideas! We can't let them lose momentum. Whatever your resolutions are - keep going. We've almost formed a habit. Just a couple more weeks and this will seem like we've been doing it forever. 

Freebie! Oh, Yeah.

I've been waiting for this one. Suave is giving away a FREE full sized bottle of shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, body lotion, etc [up to $3, one per household] if you register TODAY!! Don't miss out. 

And if you're New Year's Resolution was to exercise more but the two-week stink is getting to you. How about a FREE sample of Febreze Sport Workout Odor Eliminator

Community Supported Agriculture

You might think it's too early to start to think about your garden but the seed catalogs are already in my mailbox and that means - IT'S TIME!!! Woo-hoo!! Think about those juicy tomatoes and crisp cukes and - wait a minute, I have a confession. I really, really would like to be one of those people that have a garden. Two things stand in the way. First, we have about two square feet of backyard and that's on purpose. Secondly, I'm really bad with plants. I kill them. Truly. Right now I'm looking over at the plants that I've brought inside for the winter and they are in sorry shape. Poor things. 

So what does a plant-killing, non-gardener do for fresh summer veggies? You join a CSA. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a farm in which you receive a share of the weekly harvest through the growing season. Generally, you pay for your share up front when the grower needs the money for seeds, maintenance, etc., and then over the course of the season you share the harvest with the other members.  Just like all aspects of farming there are risks - extreme weather could adversely impact the harvest, but our experience- even this past year - in which our state was in an official drought was with a plethora of produce and some weeks with a box that was so heavy it definitely needed two hands to carry.

What are some of the drawback to joining a CSA? Cost. In our area the range is $500-675 for the 20-30 week season. Also, shares are limited due to small farm sizes. That's why this post is being written in January! If you are interested, start looking now. Shares in popular CSAs may already be sold by this time of the year and wait lists will be starting to form. 

What is the bonus of joining a CSA? I will spend next to nothing on vegetables all through the summer. Seriously. We will work hard to eat from our share and let nothing go to waste. Unless, there is a very bad harvest all summer long we'll have fresh organic vegetables that are free to us from May to October.

Why is this a Cool Idea? Because local farming is always a good idea - as a way of life and as a way of providing good and nutritious food that doesn't travel all the way across the country to reach us. Besides, I like the idea that there are farms willing to do the work and not use pesticides to farm responsibly, thinking about what the land will need in the future and not just what we need now.

It's also a Cool Idea to keep a variety of veggies in the Food Chain and not allow producers to allow a handful of varieties of tomatoes or corn or beans to be cultivated. Varieties exist for a reason and so do those unusual veggies that are usually relegated to the back rack of your grocer's produce shelf. Sadly, kohlrabi has been known not to make it out of my crisper alive. I just can't fathom what it tastes like - it reminds me of the Sandman from Star Wars - but I can appreciate that it has a place in our food supply.

Is this a Cool Idea for you but the cost is out of reach? Split a share with another family. That's what we do. Not only does it keep the expense more manageable but when the bounty of midsummer production arrives and the box contains 3 lbs of potatoes, 5 lbs of tomatoes,  and I don't want to count how many cucumbers we got in one week - in addition to the handful of yellow squash, peppers, and other lovely veggies - we split it up and half of it went to someone else's home. It also works well if there are veggies you don't enjoy. Luckily our friends enjoy eggplant. They ate our eggplants. We ate their cucumbers. I think it was an even trade in the end - purple for green:)

How do you find a CSA in your area? Visit Local Harvest and click on CSA and type in your zip code. You can find all kinds of locally produced products that are available from this list. We have friends who buy their meet, eggs, and fruit locally as well as their summer veggies.  It depends on what's seasonal where you live, but give it a look. It may surprise you and it's definitely a Cool Idea.

Free Magazine Subscriptions

One thing I've learned in the last six months is that I don't have to pay for a magazine again. Really. 

Free subscription to Woman's Day
Free subscription to Self
Free subscription to Forbes

Now, let me ask - what are you going to do with your new subscriptions when you're done reading them? You'll probably find some good recipes or pictures, tear them out and add them to a file in the kitchen. That's okay. Will the magazine then head straight to the recycle bin? Not bad. Better might be to share the subscription with a friend and give it an additional life span before it hit the big compost heap in the sky. Perhaps your church or community center or local retirement home would like recent issues of appropriate titles. It would be a Cool Idea to give them a more life beyond just ourselves. If it can be an art project for the kids. Great. If it can be additional reading for a friend, or an elderly neighbor, or even someone you don't know - fantastic. Anything that makes it worth the resources to create the paper, do the printing, mail out the copies - well, you get the point. It's not just about the monetary expense of the subscription. Resources are being used and we should use them fully and wear them out whenever possible. Being responsible is a very Cool Idea.

The Grocery Game

If you haven't heard of the The Grocery Game you're going to want to limit your distractions right now and give this a good read. Then, because you'll find this is such a Cool Idea, give yourself some time to go to the site and check it out. I'm telling you upfront you're going to like this.

The Grocery Game is a paid list. The 4 week trial is $1 and after that it's $10 every 8 weeks. It compiles the advertised and unadvertised specials at your grocery and/ or drugstore -you can subscribe to more than one store in your area for additional fees - into a weekly list. The principle is that there is a 12-week cycle in grocery business and when you know the cycle - which The Grocery Game does - you'll be able to buy what you need when it is at it's lowest price.

Another feature is that The Grocery Game has already found out which items have coupons and how much that coupon will save you. Isn't this amazing! Now you won't need to dig through all of your weekly ads and your coupons to determine which to use each week - you have The Grocery Game to do it for you. 

The feature that I particularly like is that it's color coded. Yep, I am attracted to color and it makes the list easy to use. Items on the list in black are good prices. Buy them if you need them now.  Items in blue are great prices and are for stockpiling. Items in green are FREE and you only pay sales tax on them. Yep, FREE. Mostly these will be items on special or with coupons but it's not unusual for there to be FREE items on the list each week. 

Increasing the stockpiling of items that your family regularly uses will cut down on your need to buy the items when they are full price. Buying them when they are at the least expensive point of the 12-week cycle, as determined by The Grocery Game, and with coupons - if there are any available - will save you money along the way. 

This sounds like a no-brainer. It sounds like something we could do on our own, doesn't it. Have you tried? Maybe you could, but I can't. I can barely do it with The Grocery Game. I've been signed up with The Grocery Game for a year now and I love it. I'll admit though that I haven't been a faithful player for the entire time. For the first nine months I used it mostly as a grocery list. That's not a bad way to do it, it's just not the optimum way to do it. I found some great deals but I didn't maximize The List.

Starting this past fall I began subscribing to the newspaper so that I could get the coupons each Sunday and really take the shopping seriously. Taking a look at the pantry space, here are some of things I see that I now have stockpiled: diapers, Pull-ups, toothpaste, bath gel, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, brown sugar, canned tomatoes [some diced, some with chiles, some with onions], dried pasta, pasta sauce, Goldfish crackers, cake mix, cereal, mayonnaise, salad dressing, chocolate chips, tomato soup, mushroom soup, chicken soup - well, you get the gist. [And you probably figured out that I have two small kids!]

What else can I tell you? Go check it out at The Grocery Game. If you decide to sign up, I'd appreciate it if you use me as a referral. [My email of record is sgurnsey@yahoo.com]

I think you'll find that it's a very Cool Idea. It combines the use of coupons with stockpiling with the natural flow of the grocery store cycle. And there's nothing I like better than using the ebb and flow of the system to benefit the consumer.

Cool Stuff

I promised some fun and cool stuff so here we go:

Free sample of Quaker Mini Delights
Join RewardsGold [which costs nothing and does not take a credit card] and get a free 2 year subscription to Working Mother Magazine 
Join Go Red for Women to get information about the fight against heart disease and to get a red dress pin

Oh, and check out this post on The Freebie Blogger about 50 Prints for $5 at Walgreens when you order fifty or more. You can even have the copies shipped to the store for free. Be quick. The offer expires 1/10/09. 

Organization is the Key

It appears to me that the only way I'm going to make any head way toward my resolutions for the year is to get organized. As a Myers-Briggs "J" organization comes naturally to me but the past four years of being pregnant/giving birth twice/ nursing 2 kids/ having 2 toddlers back to back has had a debilitating effect on these skills.

To begin the new year I got out the calendars and set them up. The one for the kitchen is actually a desk blotter that I'm hanging on the wall. I wanted something big enough to give me room to write in each of the days if all four of us have something scheduled - as we sometimes do. The calendar for my bag is a month a day calendar over two pages so the blocks are large enough to write in, too. Each calendar cost me $1 in the bins at the front of the store at Target. They aren't as cute as the Mom Planners that I've bought for myself the past couple of years but I've already saved at least $15.

I also need a better system for my coupons. Actually, I think I just need a system. I'm going to try using a file box and see how that works. This way I can keep the inserts from the newspaper intact until I'm ready to use them. For coupons that I've already cut out or for CVS Extra Bucks I have a coupon caddy [$1 at Target] that I carry in my bag. It needs a system, too, but that's for another day.

For a look at another blogger's post on her coupon system check out: Tia's Saving Cents

As for meal planning I made a stab at collecting ideas for this next week and making a preliminary grocery list. This got pushed back because I was down with the stomach ick but we'll get back on track soon. This week, we'll be looking at 'old standby' meals since I want to use as much food as I can out of my pantry so that I can work at my plan for the following week. I'll be using our list of 'family favorites' along with The Grocery Game to make my shopping list each week. [More on The Grocery Game next post.]

And the Cool Idea for today is using the after New Year sales. Check out the office supply stores for deals on items to get organized. I didn't score as much as I'd hoped since a lot of people beat me to them but a couple of buckets of binder clips for $1/ each and a pack of Sharpie markers for $1 were a nice find. While I was there I went next door and stocked up on presents at Bath and Body Works. I have a bag probably as heavy as my two year old - most of which was 75% off, some at only 50% off - all of it will make great gifts through the year.

Happy New Year!

January 1st is traditionally the day to make resolutions. What are your resolutions this year? Have you made your list yet? Lose weight? Exercise more? At all? Read more? Write letters - on paper - with a pen? I've tried these and they usually work for me - for a while:) This year I'm going to work on activities that are Cool Ideas that I can revisit through the year. Here it goes.
  1. Do a better job with coupons and pantry stockpiling. 
  2. Continue to find creative ways to cut expenses
  3. Meal planning/ smart planning
  4. Increase my income as a stay-at-home parent
  5. Find ways to live smarter in the balance between frugality and the environment
  6. [not sure yet but I feel like there's something still there to be explored - so I'm leaving room for one more]
So, these are the main areas I'll be working on for myself. I can only hope that the ride will be useful and without too many hazards. There will probably be humor involved. Odds are this could get ridiculous at times. If so, you have my word you'll get all the details.

Sound interesting? I hope so. If not, stick around anyway because these topics won't be the only things you'll see here. Already the coupons are posted. Also, I'll be posting information about great freebies that I hear about, as well as, wonderful deals and information posted on other blogs. I'll do a quick recap and send you to their sites for the full info. No sense in killing bandwidth twice but there is some great stuff out there and I just want to make sure people can find what they want and need.

I hope to find some Cool Ideas we can explore and some Cool Ideas we can share because this is a journey we're on - and we're on it together.